Blues fest kicks off April 18

Published 12:01 am Thursday, March 13, 2008

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected with the correct dates of the Natchez Blues Fest. We regret the error.

Natchez — In association with the Natchez Blues Heritage Association and the N.A.P.A.C. Museum, the Natchez Bluff Blues Fest will begin Friday, April 18 at noon with a free brown bag blues concert at the Vidalia Amphitheatre on the bank of the Mississippi River featuring blues legend Bobby Rush.

Friday night at 5:30, the event will jazz-up with a brass band funerary procession down Main Street in Natchez, from the Market Place Café to the N.A.P.A.C. Museum for the unveiling of Natchez’s first Mississippi Blues Trail marker remembering the once famous, now infamous, Rhythm Nightclub. After the ceremony, a festive procession back up Main Street will take the crowd back to the Market Place Café for more music and a spicy, down-home crawfish boil. A number of select clubs around downtown Natchez and in Vidalia will start up later that night.

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The N.A.P.A.C. Museum has a permanent exhibit dedicated to the Rhythm Nightclub on display and during the Blues Festival weekend, N.A.P.A.C. will also host an exhibit of Natchez Bluff Blues Fest art posters from the past 12 years. Visitors can experience Natchez’s rich Blues Heritage from past to present.

Then, Saturday morning (rain date Sunday), on the Grand Soleil stage starting at noon and lasting until about 7p.m., six bands of various styles of the blues will enchant the crowd on the grounds of Historic Rosalie’s Bicentennial Garden. Talent will include Natchez Blues Godfather, Y.Z. Ealey, Kenny Neal, Watermelon Slim, Gospel by Alvin Shelby, Li’l Jimmy Reed and In Red Letters. Regional food, vendors, crafts, beverages and not-for-profit promotions will enhance the Saturday afternoon performances.

Saturday night, the select clubs on both sides of the river resume. Select clubs include: Pearl Street Pasta, Doc Big Love’s, Club 601, Biscuits & Blues, Market Place Café, Under-the-Hill-Saloon, Eola Bar & Grill and Slough Daddy’s River Grill. Weekend Club Talent will include; Black Bayou, Maggie Brown, Brandon McCranie, Rex Pruitt, Li’l Jimmy Reed and more.

Sunday, select restaurants will host blues brunches featuring the best regional recipes served up with a healthy dash of blues music. This three day festival celebrating the granddaddy of modern music promises to bring folks together across all lines, man made or natural, to experience the influence of one of Mississippi’s most valuable natural resources — the blues.